Rafael Nadal is finally set to return to hard courts at the BNP Paribas Open, but his injured knee will keep him from winning the tournament.
The injury left the star tennis player out for quite some time. He missed seven months due to problems with his left knee, missing multiple tournaments after losing in the second round of Wimbledon.
The news hasn’t been positive lately as Nadal prepares to return to the hard courts. According to a recent ESPN article, Nadal is “not confident” in returning to the harder surfaces. The piece says:
Rafael Nadal is not sure how his injured left knee will respond to his first hardcourt match of the year at the BNP Paribas Open. Nadal is a two-time champion and three-time finalist at this event. He has not played a match on a hard court in almost a year and is only a month into his comeback from a left knee injury that sidelined him for seven months. He has played three tournaments since returning, all on clay, and won titles in Brazil and Acapulco, Mexico, after losing to Horacio Zeballos in the final in Chile in his first week back.
Nadal is currently ranked fifth in the tournament, making the road all the more difficult. David Ferrer is ranked fourth, and it is quite an odd sight to see another Spanish player ranked higher than Nadal.
The knee will hamper the ability of Nadal to make quick cuts on the court. Opponents will likely take advantage of this, likely shooting away from Nadal much more often.
It’s only been a month back for Nadal, and missing so much time will clearly make him rusty. Although he has played in three tournaments since returning, none of them were as physically demanding as the Paribas Open will be.
An injury to the knee is a very delicate one to handle, making Nadal’s success in this tournament all the more unlikely. If his knee even shows the slightest sign of not being 100 percent, he will likely drop out of the tournament. Fans would be upset, but it would likely be the right decision to make.
Nadal’s return is great for tennis, but it will take some time before he is back to the level he used to be at. In the meantime, the world will have to see Nadal struggle, especially on hard courts.